Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are responsible for the highest number of deaths from psychiatric illness. The Eating Disorders Association estimates that about 165,000 people in the UK have eating disorders with 10% dying as a result, but experts believe it could be higher. Most sufferers are women, but 1 in 10 are now men.

An eating disorder is characterized by severe disturbances in eating behaviour. People with eating disorders may overeat, eat too much and then make themselves sick or eat too little and starve themselves (overeating, bulimia and anorexia).

The thing all eating disorders seem to have in common is that people with eating disorders have low self esteem.

Facts and myths

Myth
Eating disorders are a problem of young white girls
Fact
Eating disorders are more common in females but 10% of people with eating disorders are male.
Eating disorders are also found in all races and can occur in all age groups.
Bullimia is more common in adults and anorexia is more common in teenagers.

 

Myth
If you suffer from an eating disorder you will be very underweight
Fact
A lot of people with anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeaters are average weight or above.

 

Myth
Anorexia and bulimia are a vanity problem
Fact
Eating healthiliy and trying to be a healthy weight is different to an eating disorder. Eating disorders may start out as trying to lose weight and eat healthily but the behaviour of controlling food intake is a coping mechanism for dealing with stress, self hate, hurt and sadness/shame. Obsessive weight concerns are often a mask for emotions and people can find controlling food intake an easier alternative to dealing with the underlying problem.

 

Myth
Compulsive overeaters are lazy and have no will power
Fact
People who overeat often use food to hide from sadness they are feeling as a way of filling the emotional void. To stop over eating they need to look at why they are experiencing the lack of self worth/sadness.

 

Myth
My doctor should just know and cure me
Fact
Doctors cannot know everything and they try to enter into an honest relationship with you. The honesty and concerns have to be two way. In other words you need to tell your doctor what you are feeling and how you are punishing yourself.

 

Parent’s Myth
Anorexia: If he/she will just eat it would solve the problem
Bullimia: If I could just stop her/him being sick it would solve the problem
Overeating: A diet will sort this out
Fact
The problem is not the food it is the association of food with control or lack of control over the person’s life. To solve the eating disorder the person must address the underlying problems.
 
The King's School 2008